It wasn’t possible to hear what the dozen or so parents were talking about Friday afternoon, as they stood outside the Elmwood Village School waiting to retrieve their children.
Such are the safety precautions that schools take these days, that reporters are not even allowed to eavesdrop on school property without school officials’ permission.
Still, it wasn’t difficult to surmise, even from 30 feet away that, at least some of their conversation centered around the tragic events that had occurred five hours earlier and miles away in Newton, Conn., where a gunman walked into an elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 of them children between the ages of 5 and 10.
Sue Warden of South Buffalo waited in the wide, park-like median at Days Park to pick up her youngest son.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” Warden said, about having watched the news unfold on television throughout the day.
“It was like, oh my God, how do you feel safe for your own child, or [how does] anybody feel safe for their own kids to go to school?”
Concetta Ferguson of North Buffalo also confessed to having been chilled by the news out of Connecticut, as she crossed Days Park to pick up three children from the Elmwood Village School.
“It’s horrible. I just think, as a parent, dropping your kid off at school and wondering: Is a gunman going to come and shoot up the school?” she said.
“I mean, you can’t go anywhere without worrying – the movie theaters, the malls, schools. It’s horrible, and that was my first thought this morning,” she continued.
Peter Robert of North Buffalo gripped the hands of two daughters as he walked swiftly across the park to his car and carted the girls off to play hockey.
“My reaction is the same as everybody else’s: It’s just disturbing. It’s disgusting that something like that would happen,” Robert said.
While the anxieties of local parents may have been piqued because of the horrific events in Connecticut, Amir Shahzad, an East Side resident waiting to pick up two children from the Elmwood Village School, said he was feeling more saddened for the families of the victims than fearful for his own children.
“I’m not looking for the fear of what’s going to happen to my children. It’s already happened to someone, right? That is what I’m more concerned [about],” he added.
Warden, too, grieved for the families of victims.
“My heart is just broken for the families. My gosh, and with the holidays coming,”she said.
Asked about her impulses as she waited for her son to exit the school building, Warden added: “I’m going to hug him to death. My oldest, he’s done with school right now, but I was like, oh my god. He’s taking a year off from college and I was like: ‘I’m so glad you’re home today.’ ”